A look back at 5 famous Serie A imports to Ibrox
The Scottish Premiership has turned into somewhat of a one-horse race over the past eight years, with Celtic stamping their authority over arch-rivals Rangers and establishing themselves as the undisputed powerhouses on the domestic front.
As for the Rangers fans, they should be happy that the club is finally on its way towards shrugging off the financial difficulties which had tarnished its glorious image and resulted in a demotion to the fourth tier of Scottish football eight years back.
To be honest, the fact that the Gers are yet to bag any major silverware since their return to the top-flight three years ago continues to be a bitter pill for all the club’s supporters to swallow.
That, however, might change next season or in the near future, with Rangers once again showing a lot of ambition to get back to winning ways under current manager Steven Gerrard.
Since his appointment in April 2018, Gerrard has taken significant strides towards helping Rangers revive their lost glory.
With the club’s financial condition still not back to its best, the Liverpool legend has been forced to use his acumen to strengthen his ranks, with some shrewd acquisitions in the transfers market.
The fans at Ibrox have every reason to hope that the Gers can transform the promise that they showed last season into something more meaningful next term and finally oust Celtic from the throne.
It’s easier said than done but Rangers have made a strong statement of intent with as many as eight new signings this summer, with Bologna’s Swedish international centre-back Filip Helander being the most expensive of the lot.
The £3.5million fee paid for Helander is nowhere close to the club-record amount that the Gers had shelled out to sign Norwegian striker Tore Andre Flo from Chelsea around the turn of the century but it is the highest that they have spent on a single player since returning to the top-flight following the liquidation.
With that in mind, let us take a look at 5 of the most famous Serie A imports to have graced Ibrox, and some of the inclusions in the list are bound to take the fans of the current generation by surprise.
1. Paul Gascoigne (Lazio)
A key component of the England sides that reached the semi-finals of the 1990 FIFA World Cup and the 1996 European Championship, Paul Gascoigne is widely acclaimed as a legendary figure in English football and his inclusion at the top of the list should hardly come as a surprise to the fans.
Gascoigne established himself as an influential playmaker in English football with Newcastle United and Spurs before moving to Serie A outfit Lazio in 1992 and after three fruitful seasons in Italy, the mercurial star joined Rangers in 1995.
Gascoigne netted 19 goals in 42 appearances in his debut season at Ibrox to help the Gers claim their eighth successive domestic title and replicated those numbers by scoring 17 in the following campaign as the Glasgow giants made it nine in a row over Celtic.
The playmaker sparked serious controversy for his infamous goal celebration of playing the flute in an Old Firm derby at Celtic Park in January 1998 and a tumultuous sequence of events saw him get sold to Middlesbrough in March.
Nevertheless, Gascoigne won four major honours during his time at Ibrox, including back-to-back league titles.
2. Andrei Kanchelskis (Fiorentina)
The Russian winger won back-to-back Premier League titles, the FA Cup and the League Cup during his glorious years at Man United and followed it up with an impressive spell at Everton before moving on to join Fiorentina in 1997.
Kanchelskis’ spell in the Italian top-flight proved to be an ill-fated one and he returned to Britain just after a single season, this time to Rangers in 1998.
The skilfull winger didn’t really manage to hit the same heights that had made him one of the most decorated players at Old Trafford earlier in his career but he still got the fans off their feet with moments of individual brilliance.
The Russian was a key part of the side that completed a back-to-back league and Scottish Cup double in 1998-99 and 1999-00. He further went on to bag the Scottish League Cup and Scottish Cup double in the 2000-01 season before being shipped out on loan to Man City following a string of ordinary performances.
3. Gennaro Gattuso (Perugia)
Gattuso began his career with Italian side Perugia but he was transferred to Scottish giants Rangers in July 1997 at the age of 19, with Walter Smith being the man responsible for introducing the midfield maestro to Scottish football.
The Italian played regularly for one season at Rangers but he lost his place in the team following the departure of Walter Smith, with new manager Dick Advocaat playing him in an unfamiliar right-back role.
Gattuso was eventually sold to Italian club Salernitana, where he impressed with his performances before earning a move to Milan.
4. Lorenzo Amoruso (Fiorentina)
The Italian centre-back was one of the most decorated figures at Ibrox during the late 90s and the early 2000s and he probably deserves to be at the top of this list in terms of the number of trophies won at Ibrox.
Amoruso played for Bari, Pescara and Fiorentina in his homeland before making his move to Rangers in 1997. However, his start to life at Ibrox wasn’t particularly smooth, as he missed large quarters of his debut season due to an Achilles Tendon injury.
Despite that, however, Amoruso was appointed as the club captain by manager Dick Advocaat in the following campaign and he eventually found his way into the hearts of the fans with some stellar displays at the back, guiding the Gers to a domestic treble in the 1998-99 season.
The centre-back came under scrutiny at times for his tactical errors in the subsequent campaigns but he continued to be a key player for Rangers despite being stripped off the club’s captaincy.
Amoruso’s career at Ibrox had a happy ending though, as the Italian rediscovered his mojo under new manager Alex McLeish and played a key role in the Gers’ domestic treble-winning campaign in the 2002-03 season.
The centre-back netted the winner for Rangers in the 2003 Scottish Cup final against Dundee in what proved to be his final game for the club.
5. Marco Negri (Perugia)
Marco Negri arrived at Ibrox in 1997 as a bonafide goalscorer with a proven pedigree, having topped the scoring charts at Perugia in the Serie A in the 1996-97 campaign.
The Italian soon became a popular figure at Rangers and plundered goals for fun in his debut season, although his tally of 33 league goals in the 1997-98 campaign wasn’t enough to propel Rangers to the domestic title.
Negri showed little exuberance while celebrating goals and became famous for his subdued and silent celebrations.
However, an eye injury he suffered while playing squash followed by several other recurrent injuries put an end to his short blitz at Ibrox.